Surplus store offers students way to eliminate waste while saving money

Surplus supplies illustration

Instead of making the drive to the Domain for shopping, students should consider stopping by the JJ Pickle Research Campus on Thursday afternoons to stock up on all things UT for prices they can actually afford.

Amidst the old buildings and bumpy roads sits Building 30, a warehouse home to UT’s own surplus store. The store opened two years ago with the purpose to re-purpose, collecting a variety of University items no longer in use to find them a new home.

Resource recovery manager Robert Moddrell said the surplus store is a unique, community piece designed to re-purpose used items.

“Our goal is to reduce waste and re-purpose, not necessarily make money,” Moddrell said. “I think the items here are really unique and have a real attachment to the University.”

From athletic gear to vehicles, the surplus store and online auction offers lots of variety. Because every item bought with state funds is required to go through surplus when removed from occupancy, Surplus Properties receives around 2,000 tons of material from the UT-Austin system a year.

Moddrell said somewhere around 500-600 tons are redistributed to campus, school districts or other organizations. That leaves another 1,500 tons that Surplus Properties tries to sell or recycle. Whatever remains has to go to the landfill since there is not enough space.

“Through shopping at the store and continuous online auction, students are able to actively participate in our zero waste goals we have in place at UT,” said Mark Engelman, assistant manager of Surplus Properties.

Branded attire cannot be redistributed so it comes to the surplus store where people can find items to show off their UT pride. One popular item customers like are football cleats.

“The cleats start at $20,” Engelman said. “If you go with that same type of model cleat in a standard Nike, they retail probably as 100 dollar pairs of cleats.”

Throughout the store you can find deals for as little as a dollar. These prices are based on a Dutch auction system. Each month an item sits in the store, its price goes down 25 percent. This way customers are competing for who will buy it for a greater amount.

“The Surplus store is an additional way to help reduce landfill,” Moddrell said. “The store is perfect for students because pricing is so cheap and we target items that are smaller and more accommodating for student space. And the opportunity to buy a lot of the athletic based stuff is really cool.”

Government junior Andrew Herrell said he heard about the store a month ago and will definitely be going back, since he was impressed with his first visit to the warehouse.

“There were a lot of interesting and unique things there, it was a cool experience to get to shop things that were owned by UT,” Herrell said. “It is an awesome, cheap place to find whatever you need from UT gear, books, furniture, records — you name it.”

While Moddrell said he would love to see more students come out Thursday to participate, they have seen some widely known customers since it opened.

“Ricky and Bobby, the guys from Storage Wars, they come and buy things from us all the time. It’s real fun and they’re funny,” Moddrell said.


Originally published on October 8, 2018 by The Daily Texan

By Caroline Betik
Illustration by Serena Romero

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